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Chelsea Dryland

The most rewarding aspect of my job is helping clients achieve optimal tax outcomes and supporting them in their business endeavours.

What's your job about?

I work as an accountant for RSM Australia in the business advisory team in Brisbane. I was initially employed as an undergraduate while at university and was offered a permanent position following graduation. At RSM I work within the business advisory team to provide professional accounting services for individuals and businesses including preparation of income tax returns, financial statements, self-managed super funds and compliance reports. Essentially, I help clients achieve their business objectives and reporting obligations. A typical day in the office will involve working on a range of client engagements. For example, I may begin my morning by preparing income tax returns for a group structure and corresponding with the client as required. During this process I will research and apply relevant tax legislation and collaborate with mangers and senior accountants to optimise my clients’ tax outcomes. My afternoon may involve performing further accounting functions such as monthly bank reconciliations, preparing and lodging business activity statements or performing accounts payable for a client. A typical day in business advisory will often require corresponding with the Australian Taxation Office to complete business registrations, resolve any taxation issues and meet lodgement deadlines for my clients. In my current role I have also had the opportunity to attend university networking events where I assist in educating and recruiting prospective graduates.

What's your background?

I grew up in Airlie Beach and later relocated to Brisbane where I attended the University of Queensland on an academic scholarship. I originally studied a Bachelor of Veterinary Science for 18 months before deciding to change degrees and transfer to a Bachelor of Commerce. This transition was certainly a difficult one and remains one of my hardest life decisions to date. Following a lengthy consideration and discussions with university faculty, I determined to make the change to commerce with the support of family and friends. Although it was a challenging period, I am glad I embraced this career change as it has ultimately led to where I am today. I thoroughly enjoyed the university lifestyle and completed my studies while residing at St John’s College at the University of Queensland. In my penultimate year of university, I applied for accounting vacation programs and completed a month in audit and assurance at another mid-tier accounting firm. I later applied for a range of graduate positions in my final year. This process was quite demanding as it required job applications, online testing, video interviews and participation in assessment centres while still completing my university studies. Through the application process, I accepted a graduate position at RSM with the option to start as an undergraduate during the year. I have now been with RSM for 18 months and have gained valuable experience and lifelong friends.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes, I believe it is possible for someone to work in accounting with a different degree or background. Secondary school and tertiary education provide a foundation for employment: they give you the basic knowledge and skillset required for your job. However, I believe the most valuable skill in my current role is communication. Technical skills can be learned through on-the-job training whereas soft skills like teamwork, communication and leadership are generally a lot harder to develop. Therefore, someone who has these personal skills and is willing to learn can excel in an accounting position despite their educational background.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The most rewarding aspect of my job is helping clients achieve optimal tax outcomes and supporting them in their business endeavours. I enjoy being able to apply my knowledge of client/firm/industry trends to identify, research and resolve accounting issues. Through the process of tax planning and evaluation of alternatives, I can advise on approaches for my clients and see the results achieved. The appreciation you receive from clients makes all the hard work worthwhile!

What are the limitations of your job?

I understand that working in an office job is not necessarily for everyone. Business advisory can require long hours in front of computer screens, especially during the busy tax season. Completing your diploma is also a requisite if you wish to pursue a career in accounting and this can be quite demanding. Specifically, I found it challenging to balance my work and study commitments while still maintaining my extra-curricular activities. Completing your CA involves many additional hours of study in the office every week - so you’ll have to be prepared to remain behind after work and give up weekends to study.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  1. Take advantage of all your holidays. Travel as much as possible while you’re in university – trust me, you’ll miss all the free time!
  2. Apply for vacation programs. Work experience is the best way to gain an understanding of the workforce and ultimately figure out what you enjoy. Discovering early on that a certain line of work isn’t right for you is favourable to discovering this later down the track.
  3. Relax and enjoy. Life is not a straight road and it’s normal to feel a bit lost. You’ll most likely change degrees while at uni or have no idea what you want to do, and that’s okay.